Epworth Forest CC - That Thing - June 29-July 4 (2014)

# Camp Photo Gallery

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Event Photo Gallery

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I am Chosen!

What an AMAZING week of camp we’ve had. God has been working in big ways here at Epworth and changing the lives of each and every camper on site. We are so thankful for the time we’ve had to worship together, grow together and simply have a blast together! Check out this video to see what happened this week at camp!

I am Patient and Humble

It is so awesome to feel God moving here at camp! Tonight’s worship session was so powerful as campers joined together to praise our Lord and Savior in song. Tonight we talked about the difference between addition and multiplication in discipleship. Addition – allowing discipleship to be the responsibility of only one person, such as the pastor – does not work. We must use multiplication to effectively reach the multitudes for Christ. Our churches and our communities will change when we decide that the Church is all of us and that we’re all missionaries. We’ll see growth when we put discipleship and mission back in the hands of the everyday Christian.

We can start our individual ministry right where we are in our every day lives. As we go about making disciples for Jesus Christ, we should always strive to have both the character and the competency of Jesus. We want to learn to disciple, pray and teach the way Christ did and be living examples of His love.

Although this generation is one of the most passionate generations of all time, we often struggle with the follow through. What many Christians don’t understand is that changing the world is going to cost us something – some sort of sacrifice. We have to do more than just *desire *to make a difference.

When Moses experience God’s presence through the burning bush, he was asked to sacrifice a lot. He couldn’t simply have an incredible experience with God and then fail to follow through with the action God called him to. Often times we want to hear God speak and we want to hear His word, but we never want to do anything with it. What we fail to realize is that we can’t have the burning bush without the walk back to Egypt. Following God is going to cost us something. Anytime we step into serving and sacrificing for others, we want to go back to the place where it’s comfortable. We must realize that God is sending us out into difficult and challenging situations in order to grow us and draw us nearer to Him. God is sending us into the desert, into a place that is difficult and challenging, but if we stay there, He promises us the promise land.

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Epworth Talent Show

Check out these campers performing at the talent show tonight! They wrote their own hilarious song about camp.

Gettin’ Artsy!

Campers painted some masterpieces at Lakeside Painting this morning.. Button Jewelry is up next!
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Having a Clear Vision

We had an incredible time of worship this morning with our friends Sing Love:

Our friend Pastor Chris Stahlman of Monticello United Methodist Church was with us this morning to challenge campers on this last full day of That Thing 2014. Chris began by explaining that there are two types of people in life: some people watch life go by and others step up and engage in it. God did not create us all to be wallflowers!

We all know that life is not always easy and that there are many experiences that can and will hurt us. But if we choose to be a person that follows Christ, we should accept the challenge to do not what is easy but to take a risk, to extend beyond themselves to make a difference for someone else.

In order to make a difference in the world around us, we have to have a vision. Chris encouraged campers this morning to define their goals through God. When we make a decision for Christ and have God as our focus, we will have a vision worth working toward.

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One last time…


I am Moving

We had another great night of worship here at Epworth!

Tonight we talked about the attachment our culture has to security. We asked the question, “How will the people of God react to the cultural earthquake in our world?” Many Christians are living in fear, retreating, building up their defenses and trying to fight against the world instead of simply trusting that God is good and sovereign.  Any time we’re faced with a tragedy we have two choices: we can become the rescue team or the refuges.

The exciting thing about being on God’s rescue team is that you don’t need any special training to join in. You simply take where God has put you and the gifts He’s given you and say, “This is going to become my ministry.” You start to realize that you are where you are for a reason. When every day Christians decide to be part of the rescue team, everything changes. The heros aren’t just the pastors and preachers on stage on Sunday or the missionaries in other countries. We are all on mission for God in our every day lives.

We are afraid of worldly dangers because there are things in this world that can be shaken. But what we need to remember is that we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken. We need to ask ourselves which we trust more – the things that God created or the creator Himself? God’s kingdom cannot and will not be shaken so we do not have to be afraid. When we trust in the created things, we are a people filled with fear.

What we need to realize is that sometimes what we are used to is shaken because God is showing us a new way to live. He’s teaching us to trust Him more.

The next step is to figure out what it looks like to become the rescue team of God. Tonight we talked about two key components: compassion and community. Hebrews 13:1 says,”Keep on loving on another as brothers and sisters. Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it.” This reminds us that as part of God’s rescue team, we must love others and meet their needs. Similarly, we must create a safe and loving community in order to best serve those around us.

We ended with Hebrews 13:6, a word of encouragement for God’s great rescue team: “So we say with confidence, ‘The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can mere mortals do to me?’” Our prayers is that campers will return home ready to change their world by doing small things with great love.

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The Shade was PACKED today with campers who came ready to play hard!

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Lake time!

Campers got some serious air and had a blast out on the lake tubing this afternoon! Trash can game and The Shade are starting soon!

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So now what?

It is so great to begin each day singing praises to our God! Here is what we sang this morning in worship:

Today our friend Scott Greene joined us to help campers work through the question, “So now what?” This week we’ve been learning all about what it means to live out Christ’s love here on earth, and this morning campers were called to action. We took a look at the story of David and Goliath (2 Samuel 6:1-15). David was called by God to perform a task, just as each one of us are called to something by the Lord. We are all chosen by God for a specific purpose.

But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. - 1 Peter 2:9

Scott shared with us the ministry God has called his family to: they are all a huge part of the organization Let Them LOL, a group that raises money to build wells for clean drinking water in Africa. God has chosen their family just as He has chosen each camper here on site to fulfill His purposes and bring glory to His name.

As we ended our session this morning, campers were encouraged to spend time in prayer asking God what he has chosen them specifically to do. We pray that He will reveal to all of us His will for our lives.

Rise n Shine!

Here’s a special good morning message from our camp managers, Phil and Stacy!


What Jesus did and who He is

Worship was AWESOME tonight! We kicked off session by singing

Tonight we talked about paying attention to two important things: what we DO as followers of Christ and what we BELIEVE. We should be paying close attention to what Jesus did here on earth and how He lived His life. Three things in particular are important to remember:

  1. Jesus got up with the Father. He spent time with the Lord and realized that He needed to retreat and spend time away from people. Any time Jesus’ identity is questioned He retreats and spends time with the Father to be reminded who He is and what His mission is. Just as Jesus did, we need to have intimate moments with the Lord so we can know what God wants us to do.
  2. Jesus was in with His disciples. He knew how to do family and relationships, and He was always inviting people into relationship with Him so He wouldn’t have to do ministry alone. Similarly, we need people around us encouraging us and challenging us to live in a way that is glorifying to God.
  3. Jesus was out with the world. Jesus was even accused of being a drunkard because he hung out with the drunks. He was always spending time with the broken hearted and hurting people, and He knew He had to go and take action.

Today many churches have decided they’re going to do some of those things but not all of them, but we cannot successfully do one without the other. Equally important is what we believe as Christians. Tonight we talked about the Four G’s:

  • God is Great – So I don’t have to be in control
  • God is Glorious – So I don’t have to fear others
  • God is Good – So I don’t have to look elsewhere for my satisfaction
  • God is Gracious – So I don’t have to prove myself to others

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Cornhole Tourney

The Cornhole Tournament got pretty intense today down by the Beach House! Campers are now getting ready for an awesome game of capture the flag before dinner!

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Campers and their youth leaders had a blast out at paintball this afternoon!

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A Covenant

We are so thankful God kept all of our campers safe last night, and we had so much fun praising Him this morning in song!

Today Ben spoke with campers about the story of Abram (Genesis 15:1-9). In Abram’s story, we begin to see God loving humanity as a people with a love that goes beyond anything we could ever imagine, hope for, understand or comprehend. It is bigger than anything we could ever experience. In Genesis this love is described by the word “covenant,” which is a partnership or agreement between two parties, one weaker than the other and in need of protection.

God offered Abram a chance to enter into this kind of covenant with Him, telling Abram “Do not be afraid, I am your shield and your very great reward.” The important step that Abram took was to *believe *that what the Lord said was true. In verse 6 we see this and it says, “Abram believed the Lord, and he credited it to him as righteousness.”

Sometimes the most important step to take in our relationship with Christ is to simply believe that He is who He says He is. We must believe that our identity rests in Him alone, that we are the sons and daughters of the King. We must choose to believe that what God says about us is true and what the world says about us is a lie.

When God entered into this covenant with Abram, He was offering to cover both sides of the agreement. He knew that Abram would fail, but God still agreed to provide for Abram and protect him. This is an example of the way God loves us. There is no greater love that we could ever experience, and we do not have to perform to earn it.

Many of us have been working and trying to earn love our entire lives, and before us now is a beautiful picture of resurrection and new life. Ben challenged campers today to give their hearts over to hope, to believe that God is who He says He is and that our identity is found only in Him.

Rise ‘n Shine!

After an exciting night of storms, we’re all safe and sound here at Epworth and ready for day number two!!


The First Step

It is so great to worship our God!

Tonight we asked: Have we been rescued but we don’t know what it really looks like to actually BE the people of God day after day? Are we in need of a second rescue?

As we talked about this morning, relationship (family) and responsibility (mission) are two themes that run throughout the Bible. The family aspect emphasizes our need to be connected to people and to Christ through relationship. As humans, we have a deep longing to matter, to be part of a family, because God created us to be in relationship with others. Family was something that Jesus understood – He was always inviting people into relationship with himself. Similarly, we long for mission because we want our lives to matter and we want to accomplish something worthwhile here on earth. Jesus offers us an opportunity to live out both relationship and responsibility.

Just as God revealed himself to Moses in the burning bush (Exodus 3:4-6), He often speaks to us in similar “mountain top” experiences, like camp. Sometimes we use those moments as a crutch and we simply jump from mountain top to mountain top. But God is waiting for us to move in the valleys. If we only want to experience God in the mountain top and only want to hear Him speak but not act upon it, we will continue to be a people who were rescued but who don’t know how to live.

The most important part of Moses’ story comes in Exodus 4:20 which says, “So Moses took his wife and sons, put them on a donkey and started back to Egypt. And he took the staff of God in his hand.” What is important about this verse is that Moses goes and obeys. He takes the first step toward God’s will and God’s purpose for his life. The miracles that followed would never have occurred if Moses had been too afraid to take that first step.

Ben reminded campers tonight that all great journey’s begin with the first step, and the first step of faith is always the hardest. We invited campers tonight to take that first step and ask God what He would have them step out in faith and do.

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Check it out! Campers had a MASSIVE game of tug o war this afternoon! We’re off to dinner now…

Here we go!

Campers are having a BLAST this afternoon on our first full day of camp! They’re playing soccer, volleyball, swimming, and trying out our new paddle boards down by the beach!

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I am Holy and Loved

Good morning, folks! What a great way to start our day, worshiping the Lord with our camp family. Today we sang

This week our theme is “I am Chosen” and this morning we talked more about our identity in Christ and how we are loved dearly by God. Ben began our message this morning talking about two themes that run throughout the Bible: relationships and responsibility. We were made to be in relationship with God and to do His good works, but the problem we face is that often times we decide we’re only going to live for one or the other.

We decide to live for the relationship, but don’t want any responsibility or to actually have to go out and do anything, or we live for responsibility and focus all our efforts on good works. When we do this, we limit ourselves and never live out the life God has created for us.We were made to BE in relationship, but we were also made to DO His good works.

Last night we talked about the struggle we face in finding our identity, and today we discussed the solution. Every single identity issue can be resolved in the presence of God, our mentor, the one who reminds us who we are. We see a great example of this in the story of Moses in Exodus. Moses had an identity crisis: he didn’t know where he belonged, with Pharaoh or with the Israelites, he didn’t know if he was a slave or a king, and he runs away from his struggles and confusion. At the peak of his wandering, we see God reveal himself to Moses as a burning bush to encourage him and send him back to Egypt (Exodus 3:4-6). What is important to notice in this passage is how God encourages Moses. He doesn’t give him a pep talk or tell him how great he is, but instead God reminds Moses who He is himself, the God of the universe, and He says “I will be with you.”

When we’re afraid and struggling, God doesn’t remind us of who we are but of who He is, and who we are IN Him – his beloved children. We need to be reminded that there’s a God in heaven working on our behalf who loves us as His sons and daughters. This is our identity.

Many of us receive our identity from people in our lives on a daily basis, whether it be our parents or friends, but our true identity can only come from our Heavenly Father. Sometimes we go straight from the Father and react with obedience instead of realizing that His grace comes first. We begin to believe that the way we behave *leads to *our identity, instead of recognizing that our identity is not earned but is given to us by our good God.

Ben asked campers to consider two questions today. First, which side do you lean into, the relationship or responsibility? And second, where in your life does God need to remind you of who He is and who you are in Him?

Day One Begins…

Good morning from Epworth Forest Interim Program Manager Phil Harman!


Defining Your Identity

We are SO READY to begin our week here at That Thing 2014. This summer our friends Sing Love are here to worship with us, and we began our session with some great music:

Ben Hardman of 3D Movements will be with us all week to talk about what it means to be the chosen people of God. Tonight we began by talking about what it means to have an identity. Many times we believe that we have to earn or work for our identity, but in Christ, our identity is solid. We are the beloved children of God, and there’s nothing we can do to earn or to lose that identity. Ben reminded campers that the best thing about each of them is that they have a Father in Heaven who loves them.

The most important thing we all must remember is to define ourselves as radically beloved by God. This is our true self. Every other identity is an illusion.

As Christians, we don’t always describe our identity as being the beloved children of God. We often fail to live with passion and the joy of Christ because many of us do not fully understand that we are radically loved by God. It is so important to understand our identity because we cannot go out to do the things of God and to do ministry for God until we first understand who we are in Him.

Ben spoke about the story of two brothers that begins in Luke 15:11. The younger son took all of his inheritance, left his father’s home, and squandered everything he had. When he was left with nothing, he decided to return to his father and beg to be his servant. What the son did not fully understand was that his father was *good, *and he would welcome him home with open arms, allowing him to remain part of the family as his son.

For many of Christians, when we sin, make mistakes or fail, our first response isn’t to run to Christ for help and forgiveness. Because we don’t truly believe He is good, we run away from Him and hide with our shame and guilt. If we ran to Him instead, what we would find is just what the younger brother found in Luke 15 – our Father waiting for us with open arms, rejoicing in our return.

In Luke 15 we see in a different way that the man’s older son does not believe in a truly good father either. The older son has worked hard for his father his entire life, and is not happy when his younger brother is welcomed home with celebration and feasts. He says in verse 29, “But he answered his father, ‘Look! All these years I’ve been slaving for you and never disobeyed your orders. Yet you never gave me even a young goat so I could celebrate with my friends. But when this son of yours who has squandered your property with prostitutes comes home, you kill the fattened calf for him!”

What the older son did not understand was that his father’s love was not dependent upon his actions or his good works. This is another crucial detail to remember: our Father never says that we have to earn our identity in Him or do good works to earn His love.

As we dismissed from session, Ben asked campers to remember that the most important thing about them is that they are all loved by a great, great God.

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Here we go!

Campers are already moving in and catching up with friends here at Epworth! We’re exciting for our first evening session at 8:30 with Sing Love Worship and keynote speaker Ben Hardman.

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Welcome to camp!


Today’s the day! It’s a great day for your campers to make their way to camp and embark on a wonderful journey with us here at Epworth Forest!